PhD Jiying Zhang


I obtained my master's degree from SI CHUAN University, China in 2023. During my studies, I focused on understanding the function and structure of membrane proteins, with a particular focus on how small molecules interact with potential targeting proteins. Currently, I am pursuing my PhD under the supervisor of Dr. Peter ten Dijke at the Department of Cell and Chemical Biology and Oncode Institute, Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands. My research interest is to design PROTACs for targeting oncogenic TGF-β receptor/SMAD signaling.


Cytokine transforming growth factor- β (TGF-β) is the main driver of epithelial to mesenchymal transition(EMT) in breast cancer and that high TGF-β signaling activity is associated with poor prognosis. This suggests that TGF-β is a prime candidate for novel anti-cancer strategies. SMAD3 is a potent driver of the TGF-β-induced pro-oncogenic responses. Knockdown or inhibition of SMAD3 function has been shown to block TGF-β induced cancer cell invasion and metastasis. Proximity targeting chimaeras (PROTACs) are heterobifunctional molecules comprising of an E3 ubiquitin ligase ligand fused via a linker to a ligand for a protein of interest.

My hypothesis is that design suitable PROTACs to degrade the SMAD3 to prevent the EMT and invasion of breast cancer cells.


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